Updated: Jun 2
Face masks with pockets are all the rage right now but the question remains, "What do I put in the pocket?". Here is a simple solution for making washable filters that can be reused from a household item.
With millions of Americans facing financial hardship, demand for PM 2.5, N95 and N99 filters is pushing the price up higher and higher. So what can we do? The answer is amazingly simple. Using something you were probably going to throw in the trash, you can, in seconds, make a stack of reusable, washable, non-medical filters for your mask.
While it is true that there are many ideas out there, this method seems to be the most sensible. Some of the most popular DIY filter ideas included coffee filters, paper towels and HEPA filters from vacuums or air conditioners.
With over 30 years of experience in the fabric and garment construction sector, I acknowledge that coffee and HEPA filters are better than nothing however, they are made of paper and are not washable. When facing financial difficulties it can be hard to come up with cash for food, let alone filters. So here is my solution:
Used dryer sheets.
Easy, right? I realize that a lot of people have turned away from using them due to the rumor that they are bad for your health but that has been mostly debunked by now. If you want to read more about the details check out this article.
To make these simple filters save dryer sheets from your laundry. Seventh Generation dryer sheets are either fragrance-free or use natural essential oils and are made of biodegradable components and I recommend using these rather than the cheaper ones.
To make a filter, simply press the dryer sheets flat with a dry iron on the Low setting. Fold them in half and press again. Interlock two dryer sheets. Done. A four layer, non-woven filter for your mask ready in seconds. Place a clean filter in your mask each day. To make mine last longer, I stitch around the edges.
Make sure that the dryer sheets are not new, the chemicals on them are not designed to be breathed in.
The substrate material used to make dryer sheets is a non-woven product that is similar in construction to the materials used to make medical filters however it is not the same. By layering the sheets it is possible to create a simple, 4-layer filter that is better than paper towel filters, gentler to the environment and more cost effective.
While this is not a perfect solution, it can add light, breathable layers as a filter when certified filters are unavailable.